Another year, another successful MN Ag EXPO has come and gone. Here are 900 words and a few pictures to try and bring you up to speed on what went down at EXPO Jan. 8-9 at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.
If you’re not satisfied with our summary, then come out and see MN Ag EXPO for yourself in 2015! It’s free to attend. It’s awesome. And you’ll be a better farmer by the time you leave.
Saying goodbye to retiring board members
At the annual delegate meeting the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) bid farewell to three retiring board members. Steve Sodeman (St. James) and DeVonna Zeug (Walnut Grove) each served on the board for three consecutive three-year terms. Greg Schwarz (Le Sueur) served on the board since 2008
That’s 24 years of collective experience working on behalf of Minnesota’s corn farmers in areas such as policy, stewardship, expanded uses, production and outreach. MCGA will miss the unique insights and passion for improving corn farming that Steve, DeVonna and Greg brought to the board.
Welcoming newly-elected board members
After saying goodbye to retiring board members, MCGA delegates elected three new ones.
Paul Henning, a corn, soybean and alfalfa farmer in Okabena was elected to serve district 1. Timothy Wiersma, a corn, soybean and hog farmer in Wells and Kirby Hettver, who farms in Grace Township in Chippewa County, were elected to at-large board positions.
“We’re going to miss Greg, DeVonna and Steve and we thank them for their years of dedicated service,” said MCGA president Ryan Buck. “This is a challenging and exciting time in corn farming with a broad range of issues requiring our attention. I look forward to the fresh perspectives and energy that our three new board members bring to the team as we continue moving Minnesota corn farming forward.”
Tackling hot-button issues
MN Ag EXPO is more than a valuable networking opportunity. It’s also a chance to catch up on the latest policy issues and challenges facing farmers today.
Amidst recent attacks on ethanol and an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to slash the amount of homegrown ethanol blended into gasoline, a panel on biofuels pointed out opportunities for renewable fuels in spite of recent setbacks.
Another panel focused on how farmers can use technology to improve their farms while another zeroed in on agriculture’s role in environmental stewardship and water quality.
Trade show sets record
A record 84 exhibitors set up shop in the trade show area to display products and tell farmers more about their company or organization.
Visitors to the MCGA booth were able to send a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency telling them to not mess with the RFS. If you walked across the trade show floor you would have seen the Ag Cab Lab simulator. On the other end of the floor was Linder Farm Network and the Minnesota Farm Network interviewing corn farmers and representatives from many of the companies displaying products at EXPO.
Researchers share their work
Several ag researchers set up shop in the space between the trade show and policy panel area. It was an ideal opportunity for farmers to improve their operation by connecting with researchers in-person to discuss ongoing projects or learn about findings from past projects.
Minnesota’s corn farmers support over $4 million in new and ongoing research efforts each year. Research projects are conducted through partner organizations such as the University of Minnesota or AURI.
One example of a research project on display was Dr. Alfredo diCostanzo’s project on feeding reduced fat distillers and how it compares to a full-fat product. To learn more about research efforts supported by corn farmers, click here.
Award winners recognized
Once the trade show was over and the policy panels finished, it was time to recognize award winners.
Steve Sodeman of St. James was selected to receive the Golden Kernel Award for his work on the MCGA board and his dedication to improving corn farming and agriculture overall. Kelly Marczak of the American Lung Association in Minnesota received the Friend of Agriculture Award for her long history of partnership with Minnesota’s corn farmers to increase the use of ethanol throughout the state.
Mickey Peterson of Sacred Heart, Doug Toreen of Bird Island and Dale Sunderman of LeSueur were also recognized for securing the most MCGA memberships out of all the recruiters in the entire state.
Did you know that MCGA currently has 6,868 members? That’s an all-time high and only 32 members short of its goal of 6,900 members by 2015.
Hauser talks Minnesota politics
KSTP’s chief political reporter Tom Hauser shared stories about past Minnesota governors and
today’s political climate in St. Paul as part of Minnesota Corn’s Political Action Committee breakfast.
The Minnesota legislature reconvenes in late February for what governor Mark Dayton has called the “un-session.” One thing that corn farmers would like to see undone is a new tax on farm machinery repairs.
Auction raises money for MN Corn
If you were in the market for a golf cart, leaf blower, peddle tractor, corn seed, a corn statue of Goldy Gopher, or tickets to see Demi Lovato in concert, you should’ve been at Minnesota Corn’s live and silent auction at EXPO.
All of those items, plus many more, were sold to the highest bidder.
Oh well, if you missed out on this year’s auction, it’s yet another reason to attend MN Ag EXPO 2015!